Spiced Tea Latte and smoked pink Himalayan salt aren’t the most easy flavour pairings for chocolate, but La Folie’s Chef Sanjana Patel loves a challenge.
The Mumbai-based expert baker loves to play with flavours – think mint, maple and almond butter, black jaggery and sea salt. “I can’t explain my relationship with chocolate. It’s like one of those passionate lovers who I’ve really, really been in love with,” she chortles.
Her Chocolate story
As someone who wasn’t allowed to eat chocolate, since she had bad teeth, little, did she know that her little revolt of raiding the refrigerator at night to get her hands on chocolate would ultimately take her on an adventurous ride with confections. “Chocolate for me is about a journey, one that transports you on to a sensorial experience. It’s an amazing experience of delving all the five senses– right from its mouthfeel to its smell, touch, the silkiness, and the way its flavours burst into your mouth,” Patel explains passionately. It was on this journey of self-discovery that she learnt what it really takes to create one of the most chemically complex and difficult-to-process foods that found its way from about 50 cacao farms to her opulent chocolate factory and café in Mahalaxmi, Mumbai.
Her chocolate factory identifies as a bean-to-bar, or single-origin confectionery factory that sources from small cocoa farms and then roasts and ferments the beans to create unique chocolate flavours. The cacao is sourced from select cooperatives in India like GoGround Cocoa, farms that practice ethical trade practices, sustainable and conscious growing and harvesting practices.
Single-origin chocolates are considered to be the finest chocolate experience—they come from a single region, with a characteristic flavour profile, much like single malt whiskies or region-specified wines.
Patel’s sources cacao beans from locations ranging from the Dominican Republic; Lachua in Guatemala, Esmeraldas in Ecuador to the Malabar hills and the Idukki hills in Kerala. The different soil types give the beans a distinct flavour—of the flavours of the region through plums, figs and tropical fruits complimented by delectable cacao and a chicory aftertaste.
Created in small batches, artisanal chocolates are the haute couture of chocolate making. Think chunky almond butter waltzing with maple or the mischievous love affair of sea salt and caramel. Most intriguing is Patel’s Spiced Tea Latte Chocolate, a distinctively Indian communion of finely brewed chai with warm spices, blended into smooth Ecuadorian Chocolate – a classic melange in the country’s famous conversation starter, without the cup.
At her chocolate factory, bean-to-bar chocolates made with coconut sugar, coconut milk, black molasses, jaggery, are created using traditional methods. She has creatively put to use coffee roasters to roast caco, paint rollers to roll chocolate, and dosai batter mixers do the job of grinding the chocolate nibs with cocoa butter and sugar!
Here, Patel shares with us three Christmas recipes that pay a tribute to chocolate—the foods of god.
Chocolate Plum Cake Recipe ft chef Zahabia Mukhtiar
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 30- 40 min
300 g, fruit mix
65 g, prunes
65 g walnuts
65 g almonds, blanched
65 g almond powder
65 g bread crumbs
35 all-purpose flour
65 g Muscovado sugar
65 g butter
1.5 g nutmeg, grated
1.5 g cinnamon powder
4 g allspice powder
100 g eggs
10 g fresh ginger
4 g orange zest
For the chocolate glaze
250 g cream
60 g honey or corn syrup
150 g dark chocolate
60 g unsalted butter
1. Combine the mixed fruit, prunes, rum and orange juice in a mixing bowl. Stir well to mix, cover and leave for 24 hours to soak.
2. After 24 hours, mix the walnuts, almonds, ground almonds, breadcrumbs, flour, butter, muscovado sugar, spices and eggs along with the soaked fruit mixture in a large mixing bowl, making sure you include all the soaking liquor from the soaked fruit. Mix well until completely combined.
3. Grease a 1kg pudding basin or cake tin with butter. Cut a circle of baking paper and place into the bottom of the pudding basin and then grease it with a little more butter. Pack the pudding mixture into the pudding basin, pressing as you add it.
4. Cover the cake tin with aluminium foil and fold in the edges to secure it tightly over the mould.
Place the cake mould in a baking tray with elevated edges as you will be baking your pudding in a water bath
5. Preheat the oven to 150°C. Next, pour some hot water into the tray and bake the pudding for 1.5 hours at 120°C. Ensure the heat hasn’t evaporated completely and refill the water when required.
6. Once baked. Remove pudding mould from the water bath and place it in the fridge to prevent it from cooking further.
1. To prepare the glaze, warm the cream and
invert sugar to 60°C.
2. Next, semi-melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in a microwave.
3. Mix the cream into the chocolate in 3 parts.
4. Cut the butter into smaller cubes. Blend in the cold butter into the ganache when it reaches 45°C.
5. Put your frozen and fresh out of the freezer cake on top of a cake pan or glass and slowly pour the glaze over it allowing gravity do its job.
Single Origin Chocolate Brownie Recipe
Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 20min
200 gm castor sugar
95gm pastry flour
2 gm baking powder
2 gm salt
170 gm 70% Dark Chocolate
115 gm cranberries
85 gm chocolate chips
170gm unsalted butter
1. Melt dark chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. Melt butter in the microwave. Sieve the flour and baking powder. Mix in salt, chocolate chips and chopped roasted hazelnuts.
2. Whisk eggs and castor sugar until light and fluffy (till the mixture reaches ribbon consistency).
3. Pour in the melted chocolate and continue whisking.
4. Fold in dry ingredients.
5. Lastly, mix in the melted butter. Make sure the butter is warm or else it may not mix in well.
6. Grease a cake tin with butter and line it with parchment paper.
7. Bake the brownies in a pre-heated oven at 170°C for about 20-22 minutes.
Chocolate Butterscotch Sea Salt Mendiant Recipe:
Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 15min
For the Butterscotch Praline
100 g butter
100 g honey
50 g cashews
3 g sea salt
1. Caramelise the sugar and honey in a saucepan.
2. Add butter and boil until it completely emulsifies and begins to look like a mass.
3. Add cashews and pour the warm butterscotch mixture on the silicon mat.
4. Sprinkle sea salt on butterscotch.
5. Let it cool. Break it into smaller pcs.
6. For moulding, temper dark chocolate to 32°C. Next, mould the chocolate in a polycarbonate mould.
7. Embed the butterscotch in the moulded chocolate.
8. Cool the mould in the fridge. Until ready to demould.